Friday, November 27, 2009
Here's your Christmas fruit basket
Thanksgiving is over. It's time to start the Christmas celebration. To kick it off here's a story from the school district I retired from:
Jim G. was the head of the Food Services department of our school district. The district has 100 schools and the District Kitchen serves over 30,000 meals a day. Jim was short and pudgy. He struck us all as someone who had been teased as a youngster and was taking it out on other people. If he'd been in the military he'd have been a martinet.
Several years ago in December Jim sent my coworker, Barry, to pick up a load of produce from a local produce company owned by Gene R. When Jim sent Barry he gave him instructions. "I want you to tell Gene I didn't get a fruit basket from him this year. Tell him I'd like my fruit basket. We do a lot of business with him, and the least he can do is give me a fruit basket."
Barry, being a dutiful employee, was on the loading dock of Gene R.'s produce company, and Gene, a gentleman if ever there was one, was helping him load the boxes of vegetables and fruit onto the truck. Barry said, "Oh, by the way, Jim G. said he didn't get a fruit basket from you this year."
Gene came to a complete stop and looked at him.
"Jim said what?"
"He said he didn't get a fruit basket from you this year. He said we do a lot of business with you and he'd like a fruit basket."
"Oh. He does 'a lot of business' with me and wants a fruit basket."
"He wants a fruit basket. OK."
Gene went to a big stack of bananas, pulled one off, took his Magic Marker and wrote, Merry Christmas, Gene.
"Here. Tell Jim this is his fruit basket."
Barry went back to the District Kitchen and was unloading the produce. Jim G. approached him, "So did you get my fruit basket."
Barry went to the cab of the truck, took out the banana and handed it to Jim. "Gene said this is it."
Jim stood looking at the banana, mouth agape, skin turning various shades of red and purple, then turned on his heel to go to the telephone. Barry said Jim slammed his office door but he could hear a lot of yelling from his office, Jim telling Gene R. what he thought of him.
The school district continued to do a "lot of business" with Gene R., because it's a business of low bid, after all, and Gene was very competitive. But according to Barry Jim never got a fruit basket from Gene R., not from then right up until a few years later when Jim G. died.